Now on Blu-ray: Duelling SUSPIRIAs From Cult Films UK and Umbrella Entertainment AUS

With the 40th anniversary of Dario Argento's legendary ballet school nightmare Suspiria having just passed in 2017, it's only natural that to commemorate the occasion there should be some pomp, circumstance, and of course competing home video releases in different markets around the world. Suspiria has been released on Blu-ray before in several markets, including previously in the UK and Australia from whence today's comparisons originate, but newly minted 4K transfers approved by all and sundry (and in this case Dario Argento, himself), it's a good time to revisit our options.

Notably, this comparison will not include the recent Synapse Films 4K restoration which seems to be regarded as the best A/V presentation of the bunch, but instead will focus on two discs whose transfers are almost identical.

For those of you who may have heard of the film, but not necessarily seen it, Suspiria is the story of a young girl named Suzy (played by a young Jessica Harper, fresh off of Brian DePalma's rock 'n roll nightmare, Phantom of the Paradise), who arrives at a prestigious ballet school in the German forest just in time for a murder. Strange goings-on have always been a part of the dance academy, but they seem to be ramping up lately, and their origins are looking more and mroe odd by the minute. The film moves from tense moment to tenser moment over the course of 98 excruciatngly art-directed minutes as the truth, confusing and nonsensical as it may be, slowly becomes apparent to Suzy.

A masterpiece of style becoming substance, Suspiria remains one of the most invigorating horror experiences of the '70s. Written by Daria Nicolodi, star of several Argento films, the film deals with not only witchcraft and the supernatural, but also the fears of growing up and growing old. As the adolescent students in the academy begin to come into their own sexually, so does their world begin to fracture. It is worth noting that almost all of the primary cast in the film is female, with Harper in the lead and Hollywood star Joan Bennett holding down the fort as the school's headmistress among a deep pool of talented performers only occasionally intruded upon by either effeminate working men or baffled police inspectors attempting to rationalize the fantastic.

Both the Cult Films Blu-ray from the UK and the Umbrella Entertainment disc from Australia utilize the recent TLEFilms 4K restoration supervised and approved by Argento. The image on both of these discs is pretty much identical, and quite beautiful. Detail is greatly improved upon from previous releases, and Argento's vibrant color palatte looks wonderful. The image is stable, almost completely damage free, and tack sharp. There is a good amount of debate regarding the appearance of Synapse's disc - supervised by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli - and from what I've seen they are markedly different with Synapse's disc boasting a different palatte for sure, but the job done for these discs is wonderful, and definitely no slouch. If you're locked to a Region B release, it doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck.

For analysis of the pros and cons of each release, check out the gallery below.

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